South Africa

Lesotho court clears Shaun Abrahams of delaying proceedings in treason case

The case involves charges of treason, murder, attempted murder and assault which have been brought against former Lesotho army commander Lt Gen Kennedy Kamoli and five others.

Shaun Abrahams briefs the media at NPA headquarters. Photo: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Controversial former National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams has been exonerated after Lesotho’s highest court overturned a scathing ruling the country’s chief justice issued in January barring him from appearing in a high profile treason case.

The case involves charges of treason, murder, attempted murder and assault which have been brought against former Lesotho army commander Lt Gen Kennedy Kamoli and five others. Abrahams has been enlisted by Basotho prosecuting authorities to assist him and a number of other high-profile cases as lead prosecutor in 2020.

In January, however, Chief Justice Sakoane Sakoana, who is presiding over the case, found Abrahams guilty of various transgressions under the Speedy Trials Act, which prohibits frivolous and baseless motions and false statements intended to delay court proceedings. As punishment, the Chief Justice ordered that Abrahams not be allowed to pursue the case any longer.

This on the back of Abrahams having missed a court date scheduled a week earlier due to court commitments in South Africa and a colleague sent in his place to request a postponement, which the judge in chief ultimately refused to hear in any case, after Abrahams’ colleague withdrew.

Following the Chief Justice’s ruling, Basotho Director of Public Prosecutions (BDPP), Hlalefang Motinyane, filed a motion for recusal on the grounds that there was a reasonable apprehension of bias against the state on his part.

The Chief Justice, however, denied this request.

The ODPP then approached the Lesotho Court of Appeal, where a three-judge bench this month overturned both the chief justice’s findings and sanction against Abrahams as well as his decision on the recusal request.

The Court of Appeal judgment, which was written by Judge Moses Chinhengo, essentially found that Abrahams had nothing to do with the postponement request his colleague had tried to make.

“The person subject to penalty under the Speedy Trials Act is not the litigant but the lawyer who brings the application knowing or ought to know that it is frivolous and without merit and that it is intended to delay the procedure. This lawyer was [Abrahams’ colleague] and no other,” Chinhengo wrote,
“The investigation should therefore have been carried out with regard to [Abrahams’ colleague] and the contribution of DPP and Adv. Abrahams in the application, if any, would have been used as evidence to prove [Abrahams’ colleague’s] state of mind at the time he filed or moved the request in order to establish a fault on his part. This does not happen “.

Chinhengo also found that the Chief Justice erred in attributing to Abrahams himself statements made by the DPP in an earlier affidavit explaining Abraham’s unavailability.

Furthermore, he concluded that the Speedy Trials Act did not provide for a sanction in the form of the permanent exclusion of a legal representative from a case solely for preventing him from appearing before the High Court for a period of time. not exceeding 90 days.

Regarding the recusal request, Chinhengo again came out in favor of the DPP.

“I have carefully considered the DPP’s complaints in light of the facts of this case. I have kept in mind that it is no small matter for the DPP, indeed the Crown, to seek the recusal of the chief justice of the land to preside over such a high-profile case. I have considered the predicament the DPP would be placed in by the removal of lead counsel in such an important trial and the harm the Crown is likely to suffer. J I have also considered the ramifications and untenability of a conclusion, on the one hand, that the exclusion of attorney Abrahams was not justified and, on the other hand, ordering that he continue his mandate before a court presided over by the chief justice without requiring the chief justice to recuse herself,” he said,

“I have considered all of this in an attempt to answer the question of whether the DPP’s fear that the Chief Justice will not bring an impartial spirit to the trial is reasonable. I have come to the conclusion that, in all the circumstances of this case, the Chief Justice should have granted the request for recusal”.

Abrahams welcomed the decision.

“I am extremely pleased with the decision of the Lesotho Court of Appeal and look forward to proceeding with the case once it is reassigned to another judge for the hearing and a scheduled trial date,” he said. declared.

“I have always been convinced that the decision of the Chief Justice throwing me out of the case would be overturned on appeal with his refusal to recuse



Lesotho court clears Shaun Abrahams of delaying proceedings in treason case

Source link Lesotho court clears Shaun Abrahams of delaying proceedings in treason case

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